We're still weeks away from meaningful baseball games, but Mookie Betts' projected value in free agency continues to rise.
The Los Angeles Angels are finalizing a gargantuan 12-year contract extension with outfielder Mike Trout worth more than $430 million total, ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Tuesday.
That's an average annual salary of $35.8 million, smashing Zack Greinke's previous record of $34.4 million per year and making Trout the highest-paid player in baseball by both annual salary and total contract worth.
Trout and Betts, both former American League MVPs and generational talents, both were set to become free agents following the 2020 season and launch historic bidding wars for their services.
But the Angels reportedly got ahead of the game Tuesday -- and in the process set a target for Betts to shoot for in free agency.
We already knew the Boston Red Sox outfielder would be within his right asking for a deal north of $350 million after Bryce Harper's 13-year, $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.
With Trout re-upping the bar to $430 million, though, Betts can make a case to earn at least $400 million total or at least $35 million per year if he desires a shorter deal.
Why? Because even if you think Trout is the best player in baseball, you could argue Betts is right behind him: Both players have very similar career 162-game averages at the plate, while Betts has three Gold Gloves to Trout's zero.
The Angels reportedly are finalizing a massive 12-year, $430 million extension with Mike Trout.— NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSBoston) March 19, 2019
Does Mookie Betts have his blueprint for 2020 free agency? https://t.co/HIzVittTdV pic.twitter.com/3eznscue3w
The timing of Trout's reported extension is important, as well. Betts signed a one-year, $20 million extension with Boston in January during arbitration, but do the Red Sox try to follow the Angels' blueprint and lock up their superstar to a long-term deal either this season or next before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2020?
If they don't, they'll have to compete on the open market for one of the best players in the game -- and put a Trout-like number on the table to convince Betts to stay in Boston.
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